Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Two Hundred Sixty Six

You grew up on a farm a long way and several gravel roads from anywhere. Or you lived in a forgotten town, just off a highway where the traffic passed by never stopping. Or maybe it was the wrong side of the tracks of a bustling community, sagging fences marking the boundaries of your yard, rusting machinery gathering like thistle in barbed wire.

All of these were in the Quarter, though you didn’t know what that was, what that meant, only that it was nowhere. You would stand in a pasture, or look ahead on whatever road you were on, and see that endless horizon and feel the weight of it pressing down on your chest, like a car rolled over and trapping you underneath. Maybe it was on your way home from school, walking with a backpack over one shoulder, or sitting on the bus hoping no one spoke to you and intruded upon your thoughts, that the idea came into your head that you would get out of this place. Whatever it took you would get out of here.

You did, of course. There are always roads out of the Quarter. Whether it was a desire to know, to see all that there was of the world, or just a desperation not to see the same damn faces for the rest of your life, you slipped past the borders of the Quarter and never looked back.

Except that was never quite true, certainly not as true as you wanted it to be. People would ask where you were from and you would tell them. Reluctantly or evasively, or even as a point of pride. Or maybe as though it was something to be embarrassed about, which you regretted even as you couldn’t stop yourself from doing it. People were fascinated in a way that made you uncomfortable. That person they saw wasn’t you. Except it was.

You went to school and then wandered away, going as far as you could. Or you moved away by degrees, first to a small nearby city where you thought you would be comfortable, but it was all the same people there. Too many familiar faces. The same problems, the same delights. You got tired of that so you moved on to another city and another, farther and farther out, until none of the faces you saw were familiar. And you felt that at last you could be yourself.

But who was that? When you are alone and you close your eyes, do you see that long horizon? Do you feel the wind upon your face? Do you head out along those roads that seem never to end, never to get anywhere. Do you wonder if you ever really left at all, if you ever could?

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Two Hundred Sixty Five

I have been enjoying the sunrises lately, taking the time to watch as the sun creeps up the horizon, casting colours upon the clouds. The texture of the darkness and shadow changes from moment to moment, until they dissipate and the day is upon us.

Rarely have I allowed myself the time to just watch a sunrise as it happens. Certainly I noticed the awe inspiring pinks and reds marking the clouds while I was on my way to work before the grippe reborn arrived in these parts. But it was a glance and maybe a picture taken and nothing more. I never allowed myself to linger, to wait to see what might happen.

We have certainly been allowed a great deal more time for waiting and contemplation in these last long months. It is hard sometimes not to allow that introspection to fester, to let a cacophony of thoughts and anxieties and questions intrude and override everything else. Especially when our particular moment demands that we put constraints on our usual impulses to go out and do things. Those compulsions will always find expression somewhere, even if it is just in our thoughts and dreams.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Two Hundred Sixty Four

The unseasonable weather continues. It is warmer now than it was most of last April when we first entered into the quarantine protocols, when all I wanted was for winter to end so that I could see some green come back into the world to prove that the seasons had not also been suspended by the grippe reborn. I cannot recall the last stretch of weather this warm in December. It is a blessing at a time when so many protocols are being reintroduced and fears mount that we are losing control of our battle with the dread lord.

The last two days I spent a great deal of time outdoors. After a stressful, busy week, where it seemed I hardly strayed from my small office, rarely glancing away from my computer screen, it was such a relief to be able to venture outdoors. I walked down to the river again with my love. It was crowded with people doing the same thing. The next day I biked along the river, weaving my way among the walkers and joggers and families out with their dogs. It was wonderful to see so many smiling faces, to hear laughter and the chatter of voices.

It is an absence one doesn’t notice until one is back out among people, a longing that is there without being recognized. For a time at the beginning of the quarantine regulations there were those who talked about how this would reorder our way of doing things completely. No longer would we be going out to places with anything like the same frequency. We would be more cautious and insular. Some I’m sure will be that way, but now that we have endured nine months and counting of insularity, most of us have had more than enough.

Strangely I do not pine about crowded bars or movie theatres, hearing a hundred other strangers laugh in delight at what they are seeing, though I certainly will see myself to those places as soon as I am able, to luxuriate amidst the rabble. What I miss at this moment is to sit in a café, lingering over a coffee, watching people as they come and go, listening to snatches of their conversations. Letting the sound and colour of it all wash over me. Even these small pleasures have been denied us for the most part and I will not take them for granted for a long while

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Two Hundred Sixty Three

It is hard to imagine what the Lost Quarter looked like before the arrival of Those Who Came. We have the descriptions of the first of Those who arrived in these parts, but it had already been transformed completely by their arrival in the eastern and southern dominions centuries before. They came to a place undergoing change and found peoples whose lives were completely different than the ones their ancestors had.

Those Who Came had no way of knowing this, no way of seeing the context behind everything they laid their eyes upon. They assumed it was the world the way it had always been. That has always been the myth of the Quarter and the larger continent, that it existed in a natural, pristine state and only the arrival of Those Who Came changed that. Those Who Went Away in this telling were no different than the bison and deer they hunted, living and dying upon the plains without altering them. It is a strange conceit given the changes Those Who Came had wrought upon their own homes. Why should they think the people here any different?

Worse, Those Who Came were oblivious to the destruction they had unknowingly brought with them. For travelling with them was the grippe, the dread lord they had been battling him for centuries without success. Having never encountered such terrible powers before, Those Who Went Away were defenceless against him. The great empty plains that Those Who Came marched across were graveyards. The great bison herds, so vast it took days for them to pass, were so large because so many of those who had hunted them were now gone.

What would have happened if Those Who Went Away had been familiar with the dread lord, had known some of his tricks? They would not have perished in untold numbers and Those Who Came would not so easily have been able to claim the continent for themselves. They would have conquered these places eventually, for there were few parts of the world that the dominion of Those Who Came did not touch eventually, but it would have been a different sort of conquest.

Those Who Went Away would have been far too numerous to force into exile. They would have remained and the Lost Quarter would have been a very different place.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Two Hundred Sixty

She kept seeing him. Every time was like the first. His eyes were wide, with an open seeking look, like an antelope searching the plains for some predator approaching. There was something almost feminine about them, a contrast to the rest of his face, which featured hard lines and angularity. She could not look away.

He was alone when she first came across him, sitting on the shores of the Glover’s Lake. He had just returned from a swim and his pants and shirt still clung in places to his damp skin. She was having lunch with her cousins from those parts in the Quarter. The whole community came out there on summer Sundays after church, swimming and picnicking.

No one she asked knew his name, though they all seemed familiar with him. Hardly a surprise, he was there at the lake every Sunday. Some said he had taken over the homestead at the Gilbert’s place, others that he was some cousin of the Dradfort’s who had come out to look after their place in the hills following their misfortune. He talked little of himself when he was there, they all agreed, remaining aloof, offering little in the way of talk and only when pressed. They mostly left him to himself, which he seemed to prefer.

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Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Two Hundred Fifty Nine

This past week I have been feeling overwhelmed by my correspondences, the work seeming to multiply exponentially like the grippe reborn’s allies. I woke up this morning and even before the fog of sleep had evaporated from my thoughts I was already going over all I needed to get done today and wondering how I would possibly do it. At least it is a distraction from being overwhelmed by the grippe reborn’s steady march.

The walk with my love in the morning darkness helped to distract from all these intruding, worrying thoughts. By the time I returned home I felt awake and energized, ready to face the day. Of course by the time I sat down to my correspondences more had arrived and the work I needed to get done was overtaken by other more urgent tasks.

The whole morning has felt off kilter as a result. I am rushing so that I am only behind, not lost entirely. The sense that things may slip completely beyond my control continues to build, a thought in my head that I cannot entirely shake.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Two Hundred Fifty Eight

We are in the early days of winter still, the days will continue growing shorter for some weeks now. More of it awaits us than we have left behind. Thus far the season has been kind enough. There has been a little snow, and some still lingers, but the days are warm and sunny. We have escaped the bitter cold, but we all know that can’t last forever.

The early stages of winter are often like that. The weather is crisp, but not frigid, and we wonder how long it will last. It is a strange kind of oasis before we find ourselves in the absolute depths of the thing. Midwinter arrives around the solstice. The days gradually, imperceptibly grow longer, but it feels like we are trapped in the longest night. The coldest days arrive and everything seems frozen in place, immovable, something we will never break free of, something that has broken the will of nature and all our future days will be winter ones.

March arrives and people elsewhere think of spring, but this is only late winter in these parts. Most years the coldest days are past, but it is often the snowiest month. If we are lucky the weather will have turned by months end and begun to warm. But just as often winter lingers on, far past its welcome, the guest who sets up camp rather than leave. April passes and there is still snow, sometimes even into May. Spring, when it finally does come, is so sweet. We emerge to the sweet smell of the air and sight of green at long last.

Right now we seem to be in the long midwinter of the grippe reborn. His hold upon seems impossible to break. We are all so tired and we long to hibernate for a time until spring comes. For it will, we know it will, even if it is hard to see past these long, cold, lonely nights.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Two Hundred Fifty Seven

A glorious sunrise greets us this morning as we rise from bed. Waves of red and orange and pink move through the banks of cloud standing in the eastern sky, the colours shifting their hues with each passing minute as the sun climbs into view upon the horizon.

One of the benefits of the shorter winter days is that I am up in time to see the sunrise. The angle of the sun at this time of year, keeping the sun low on the horizon most of the day, creates spectacular sunsets and rises. They are fleeting though, creating moments of beauty that last only a few minutes. This is in stark contrast to the summers where they linger for hours.

 In the midst of this gloomy winter, when all one can seem to dwell on is the toll the grippe reborn is taking upon us all, it is easy to forget that the sweeter things in life exist. Each day brings more grim news as seemingly greater numbers fall to his touch, and each day it is hard not to long for all those things that bring us pleasure that are currently denied us by the quarantine protocols. But a sunrise is enough to remind us that there is still much good in the world, and that there are beautiful things the dread lord can never touch.